Abbott (Again) Calls For An End To Solar Subsidies

Tony Abbott - solar subsidies

Tony Abbott | Image: via Facebook

Surprise, surprise – Tony Abbott has joined the call for an end to solar subsidies – in fact, all new renewables – after backbench colleague Craig Kelly’s recent ill-informed dummy spit.

As we reported on Monday, Craig Kelly believes Australia’s major solar subsidy (sometimes referred to as the “solar rebate”) is effectively a “reverse-Robin Hood scheme”, hitting the poor in order to reduce electricity prices for the rich. He conveniently ignored the fact that uptake of solar power systems has been incredibly strong among battlers in the nation’s mortgage belts.

Craig Kelly was even clearer in what he wants done about it in a subsequent Facebook post – that subsidies should end.

“It’s time for solar to stand on its own 2 feet,” he stated, not mentioning that the subsidy is already being gradually phased out.

Support for renewables is also a special interest area for Tony Abbott – he’s well known for shouting at windmills (and solar panels). Mr Abbott added his voice, saying:

“Australians are paying far too much for our emissions obsession. Government must end subsidies for new renewables.”

It’s the sort of statement Mr Abbott has made many times and during his brief crack at Prime Minister, renewables were firmly in his crosshairs.

Craig Kelly and Tony Abbott aren’t alone in their views. In a follow-up article on The Australian (subscription may be required), other Coalition members reportedly piled on.

But the latest spray on support for solar appears to have been based on questionable figures published by The Australian.

“Spurious Analysis”

In an article published on RenewEconomy yesterday, Green Energy Trading’s Ric Brazzale said the original piece featuring Mr. Kelly’s comments was:

  “another beat up on the solar industry and is using some very spurious analysis”.

Mr Brazzale estimated the cost of the subsidy last year worked out to $16.85 per household and estimates this year it will cost $40.45, the reason being the 2017 Target was exceeded and the surplus is added to the 2018 Target. So, the average is $26.85 over the two years.

Even at $40.85, that’s a far cry from the $100 claimed in The Australian.

Mr Brazzale also stated solar PV has delivered benefits to more than just the households that have installed solar panels; including a dampening effect on wholesale power prices.

Pressure On Josh Frydenberg

The backbench “revolt” on solar subsidies comes at a critical time. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is expected to set the Small-scale Technology Percentage (STP) for the coming year by the end of this month.

The STP influences the value of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), on which the solar subsidy is based. If it’s set too low, it will push down the value of certificates. The system can also be fiddled with in other ways, such reducing the maximum possible value of a certificate (currently the maximum is $40).

A drop in certificate value last year pushed up the cost of going solar. Currently, certificates are trading relatively close to their maximum value – $38.30 was the most recent spot price published by Green Energy Markets (22 Feb).

STC value; i.e. the subsidy, is usually factored into a solar quote.

Josh Frydenberg is yet to publicly comment on the backbench rumblings.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. “Mr Brazzale also stated solar PV has delivered benefits to more than just the households that have installed solar panels; including a dampening effect on wholesale power prices.”

    And, coincindentally, apart from reducing ongoing harm to the environment, and, apart from reducing the killimgs by the government through burning coal to generate electricity, since the advent of domestic rooftop photovoltaic systems, especially here in WA, we have seen an end to the rolling grid electricity blackouts during summers, when the electricity supply from the utility companies, and, the reliability of the coal burning electricity generators, have bot been inadequate to cope with the normal summer demands for electricty.

    The population is increasing, and, whilst the Parliamentary Morons (backward MP’s) want Australia to plunge even further back into the Dark Ages, having dismembered the telecommunications networks so as to eliminate access to emergency services during emergencies (no grid electrcity now in Australia, means no landline telephone network, and, if no grid electricity, also shuts down the cellphone towers, then, no telephones at all, so, no means of calling emergency services), it is not want the people want, and, in the Parliamentary Morons clearly seeking to destroy Australia, through sabotage, the question arises, as to whether their actions are acts of treason.

  2. Jonathan Prendergast says:

    Once we put the boxing gloves down, going from a floating price set by spurious supply & demand to a fixed $30 x deeming period would not be the worst thing to happen.

  3. Off-topic but worth noting:- Aldi has a ‘special’ on today that includes portable (folding) 160 watt panels (including connectors, regulators, for $1 per watt. Sounds like a good offer, and their products are usually better than the
    real elcheapo stuff; is anything known about manufacturer/etc.?

    ps. also selling night-vision units, which might be handy when you’re up on the roof at midnight trying to find out why the panels have stopped working………

  4. Joe Blake says:

    What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. On 24 Mar 2015 a news report said that Dr Mike Nahan, then WA State Treasurer and Minister for Energy had announced a major shake-up of the state’s electricity network. (NOT renewable energy!)

    The announcement comes off the back of a review into the industry which the Government launched last year in a bid to reduce power production costs and its $1.2 billion, four-year subsidy of the sector.

    In his first budget, Labor State Treasurer Ben Wyatt stated that he wanted the price of electricity to reflect its cost of generation. He said that the changes announced as part of the Budget had slashed the State-owned utility’s operating subsidy – which will fall from $280 million last year to a forecast $146 million this year and zero next year.

    If the subsidy to grid energy is reduced to zero, then I would have no reason to object to subsidies to renewable energy being removed as well. The proverbial level playing field. Let’s get non-renewable energy to stand on its two feet. I think creation of this level playing field could only drive more people to renewable energy. Careful what you wish for Tony Abbott.

  5. Chris Thaler says:

    We can expect no better from the troll like politicians mentioned until they learn to stand up on their hind legs and see the true world view !!!
    The less coal burnt, the less damage to our future evolution.

  6. twodoor monarch says:

    Tony needs to reflect on the coal industry receiving 32 cents per litre reduction in diesel fuel tax for all of those diesel burning diggers loaders and trains used in getting his precious coal to the power station. Not only is diesel highly polluting, its also imported as well, and you can just imagine the quantity consumed in the incredibly inefficient coal energy process.
    Take off your blinkers Tony, and get those flappers listening to something other than the coal industry.

  7. Is m rabbot also calling for subsidies to coal mining companies?????

  8. Well he’s right, all subsidies distort the market and end up costing the taxpayer more. In addition the equipment pricing is such that they are now no longer needed anyway.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      It certainly should be more efficient to remove the market distortion caused by coal’s externalities by putting a carbon price on its CO2 emissions equal to the cost of removing it from the atmosphere and sequestering it.

      • Well that’s assuming you see some CO2 as a problem, its been very much higher before and is proving quite beneficial for the worlds flora for example. I’m more concerned about the carcinogens and chemical pollutants being released.

        But OK if CO2 is bad so is intermittent power so by this logic a levy could be placed on intermittent sources that cause grid irregularity and we are no better off.

        Things are always going to be better without subsidies, levies and taxes.

  9. Chris –

    But OK if CO2 is bad so is intermittent power so by this logic a levy could be placed on intermittent sources that cause grid irregularity and we are no better off.

    So, as they are the cause of the irregularities, you mean, then, that levies should be imposed on coal fired power stations, as they are unreliable, and, on substations and otherwise grid switchings, as they cause blackouts, and, on poles and wires, as they both fall down and/or get knocked down, so causing more outages, leading to a generally irregular, erratic, unstable, and, unsafe, electricity grid (especially, here in the remote outpost of the Perth metropolitan area of WA, which is apparently closer to civilisation, than it is to the eastern states)?

    If you read the article posted today at
    https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/stand-alone-solar-wa-mb0508/
    and other related articles, it would appear to be more efficient (and, would provide a far more stable and reliable supply of electricity (and, would probably be more economically feasible) ) to simply provide funding to supply adequate household rooftop photovoltaic systems and adequate battery storage to last for at least two full days, to each household.

    Oh, and, you state
    “I’m more concerned about the carcinogens and chemical pollutants being released.”

    What about the particulate emissions (soot and suchlike), from electricity generation through combustion (of whatever material, be it coal, diesel, or rubbish/biologicalmatter/toxic waste?

    Respiratory problems for asthmatics, and, for anyone who breathes air into their lungs, from particulat emissions, is quite harmful, and, kills people, sometimes slowly (taking more than an hour), and, sometimes, not so slowly – if a severe asthmatic attack, or, otherwise choking and suffocation, occurs, death can take less than an hour.

    But then, the feral government loves killing people. That is why it loves the idea of burning stuff (and, burning the nevironment).

    The Australian feral government version of the “I love the smell of napalm in the moring”, is “I love the sight of people choking and dying from the smoke we produce”.

  10. “What about the particulate emissions (soot and suchlike), from electricity generation through combustion (of whatever material, be it coal, diesel, or rubbish/biologicalmatter/toxic waste?”

    Yes, that too!

    I’m with you, we would all be better off with nuclear energy… just hope the cost will drop enough to be more viable soon. Fusion even better of course.

    • Joe Blake says:

      “I’m with you, we would all be better off with nuclear energy”

      How better off? Over 95% of power outages are caused by grid failures. Eg storms blowing down transmission towers, trees falling on power lines, “animal flashovers”, vehicle crashes, flooding, bushfires – the list goes on. Generation is not the problem, and going nuclear would do nothing to ameliorate the situation – possibly even worsen it, as it would be lunacy to put a nuclear power plant in a suburban situation. It would have to be further out than a solar farm or even a coal fired power station, adding extra km of vulnerable (and expensive) transmission lines.

      Further, in this rather disturbing era, widespread electricity distribution networks are particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks, whether by hacking the controlling computers or crashing a small aircraft into a large switching yard. Household generation and microgrid distribution within suburban enclaves, such as is happening in White Gum Valley or Alkimos in Western Australia (and elsewhere) would seem to be the answer.

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